In the footsteps of Abraham, model of faith, and of the Levites, and dedicated to liturgical service, deacons appeared in the Apostolic Church (see Acts 6). They embodied the admonition of Jesus to wash each other’s feet (John 13) in works of justice and charity. In the early Church deacons had an important ministry in the service of their local bishop. In the 5th century, the diaconate faded into a transition step to the priesthood. The Council of Trent (16th century) recommended its restoration.
Following the directives of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium no. 29; 1962-65), Pope Paul VI restored the order of the diaconate as a permanent ministry in the Western Church on June 18, 1967. The following year the bishops of the United States were granted permission to have permanent deacons in America. On October 4, 1976, The Diocese of Camden ordained its first class of permanent deacons.
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